The Prince Edward Island government’s plan to contract out operation of two provincial campgrounds has upset a community development group, CBC News reported.
The government has issued two tenders for private companies to run the campgrounds at Green Park and Cabot Beach provincial parks, both in western P.E.I.
Provincial parks belong to the residents of P.E.I., and the government is only an administrator of the public lands, said Barry Balsom, president of the Green Park Development Corp.
The tourism minister should have met with the residents to hear their concerns before searching for an operator for the campground, Balsom said.
Balsom is hoping for a meeting now.
“I am concerned this is the first step in the total privatization certainly of the tourist side of the park. We are making decisions based, I’m concerned, on just dropping off of financial commitments to the government,” said Balsom.
“There is no overall vision on what the parks are for or where we are going. Before we start giving away public property — people have donated land, taxpayers have paid for this property — then the very least, before we start lopping things off, the government should actually consult with the public to get an action plan and a mandate of what actually parks are for on Prince Edward Island.”
Each proposal will be evaluated on its impact to the tourism industry, the impact on the local economy and return to the province, said Kevin Jenkins, director of corporate services with the province’s tourism department.
A total of 14 casual government jobs will be affected.
“Certainly government is looking at the use of its tax dollars, particularly this year,” said Jenkins.
“We have two proposals actually for operation of those campgrounds. So we couldn’t just deal with them on a one-off basis, but we wanted to go to a public RFP to gauge the level of public interest in operating those two campgrounds,” said Jenkins.
“The province would retain the day-use component in both those parks that we have RFPs out on. We think the private sector might be better positioned to operate them in a more efficient manner or to expand operations or to invest capital dollars,” Jenkins said.
There are no similar plans for this year at any of the 12 other provincial campgrounds, said Jenkins.
The request for proposals closes on March 23.